Alyson Dixon’s Olympic hopes dashed

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SUNDERLAND’S Alyson Dixon’s Olympic hopes ended in disappointment in yesterday’s Virgin London Marathon.

Last year’s Brighton marathon winner and World Championship runner could only finish seventh British finisher in a time well outside her best.

She finished 24th in 2hrs, 35mins and 11secs – well off the 2.28 she was hoping for and 56 seconds off her best for the distance.

From the start she was never in the hunt, passing halfway in 76.40, well behind fellow Olympic hopefuls Claire Hallissey and Dixon’s Chester-le-Street AC clubmate Freya Murray, who passed the distance in 73.39.

In the fight for the final place in the Olympic team, it was Hallissey who put herself in pole position to join pre-selected Paula Radcliffe and Mara Yamauchi.

The American-based athlete clocked a personal best of 2.27.45 to finish first British woman in 11th.

But former Silksworth resident Murray, who still holds the Sunderland 5k women’s course record, made a magnificent marathon debut to record 2.28.10 for 13th position.

That could put the Scot ahead of Jo Pavey, who ran 2:28 in both London and New York last year, for the reserve spot in the team which is selected today.

Pavey chose to gamble by sitting the race out and relying on her previous performances to seek selection.

Hallissey is a former swimmer and rower at Cambridge University and if selected for the Olympic marathon team, Pavey is expected to turn her attention to the track to try and qualify for the 10,000m.

Hallissey and Murray have now moved into the UK all-time top 10 marathon rankings.

The British elite women finishers were: 11th Claire Hallissey 2.27.44, 13th Freya Murray 2.28.10, 16th Louise Damen 2.31.37, 19th Sonia Samuels 2.33.41, 21st Helen Decker 2.34.11, 24th Alyson Dixon 2.35.46, 25th Susan Partridge 2.37.41, 26th Liz Yelling 2.40.08, 27th Michelle Ross-Cope 2.49.18.

Durham City runner Ian Crampton, a previous winner of the veterans’ categories, this time finished a superb second in the over-50s with his performance of 2.33.36. Club-mate Stephen Marshall was 13th over-55 with 3.01.50.

Sunderland Strollers had over-50 Kevin Blyth with 2.56.06, Paul Dunlop 3.08.57, Kevin O’Neil 3.11.16, Chris Duke 3.34.37 and Vicky Booth 3.37.55.

Sunderland Harriers had Paul Besford with 2.57.58, Sean Smith 3.09.25. Paul Collins 3.11.14, and Roy Baker 3.29.55.

Wilson Kipsang and Mary Keitany completed a Kenyan double by winning the men’s and women’s races in 2.04.44 and 2.18.37 respectively. Kipsang just missed out on a course record.

Lee Merrien was the first British man, finishing 17th. The Guernsey athlete was on course to meet the Olympic A standard of 2.12.00, but slowed and finished in 2.13.41, a personal best.

H Yared Hagos won his own club’s Terry O’Gara Memorial 5k Road Race yesterday in 14.49. Leeds City athlete Carl Smith was second (15.33). Stacey Rogers (Wallsend) won the women’s race (18.12).

Sunderland Harriers placed Craig Isherwood 14th (17.08), over-50 Paul Merrison 20th (17.21), Alan Hodgson 28th (17.54) and Dean Phillips 69th (19.56).

Sunderland Strollers had Steve Rankin 22nd (17.25), James Hubbard 36th (18.21) and Harry Harrison 52nd (18.21).